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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Russia Confirms Failed Rebellion Leader Prigozhin On Plane That Crashed; Giuliani Says He's "Honored To Be Involved" In Trump Case Despite Mounting Legal, Financial Woes; Judge Rules Meadows & Clark Can't Avoid Arrest In Georgia. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 23, 2023 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Before we go, take a look at this video, outside the Wagner Group's office, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, makeshift memorial, for Yevgeny Prigozhin, killed, according to Russian authorities, along with other top Wagner members, in a suspicious plane crash, earlier today.

Supporters lit candles, left flowers, and Wagner insignia, some unfurling the banner, you see there. It reads "Wagner PMC. We are together."

Again, I'll be back, 11 PM, along with Dana Bash.

Right now, the news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Tonight straight from THE SOURCE, the man, who led a failed coup, against Vladimir Putin, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was on a plane that crashed and burned, today. He is believed to be dead. And there is wide speculation about what happened. Was it revenge?

Plus, once known as America's mayor, and a tough-on-crime federal prosecutor, Rudy Giuliani has been arrested, fingerprinted, and yes, there is a mug shot. But Giuliani says he hasn't changed a bit. His lawyer will join me, tonight.

And hours from now, it'll be Trump's turn. Why arrest number four though won't be like any of the others.

I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.

Two months to the day, after his march on Moscow, Russia has now confirmed that Yevgeny Prigozhin was on that private plane that fell out of the sky, today, just northwest of the capital. A social media channel that is linked to the Wagner Group, which Prigozhin led, says that he is dead.

The pictures are harrowing. Flight tracking data shows the plane, making erratic climbs, above 30,000 feet, and then descending at 8,000 feet per minute, when it stopped transmitting its position.

The video appears to show the plane missing a wing. There are still a lot of questions that remain tonight though, including whether or not that plane was shot down.

The jet ended up here, in a ball of flames, on the ground. Russian state media says at least eight bodies have been confirmed found, at the crash site.

Some were not surprised, when they heard this news, today, given Putin's history, with those who cross him, including President Biden, who warned just last month that Prigozhin should be careful about what he was eating.

This is what he told CNN's Kevin Liptak, today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't know for a fact what happened, but I am not surprised.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN REPORTER: Do you believe Putin is behind this Sir?

BIDEN: There's not much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind. But I don't know enough to know the answer.


COLLINS: White House officials are still asking questions, tonight, though.

And as the news broke that Putin's former ally turned enemy, the Russian leader was seen, at an elaborate ceremony, commemorating World War II.

A reminder, tonight, Prigozhin was a brutal war lord. He led some of the bloodiest crusades, in Ukraine and elsewhere. He was also wanted, by the FBI, for interfering in U.S. elections.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins us live, from Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.

Nick, obviously, it's been two months, since that coup just fascinated everyone. There were still questions about how active he was, how public he was, with his movements.

What is the latest that you're learning, from sources, on the crash?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's important to point out Kaitlan that we don't still have definitive evidence that Yevgeny Prigozhin did indeed die, in that crash.

The information received is beginning to suggest that is the most likely outcome. But it's mostly from Russian state sources that of course, will be distributing what is favorable to Vladimir Putin, the man, who essentially Prigozhin crossed in ways that Putin never been crossed before.

During the failed armed rebellion, exactly two months ago, Prigogine led Wagner mercenaries, from Rostov, essentially against Russia's top brass, saying how angry they were, at the conduct of the war, here in Ukraine. But it turned into a much larger challenge, against Putin himself.

Essentially a deal done, by the Belarusian president turned Prigozhin around, and meant that he was somehow now going to move his fighters to Belarus. He went quiet for a bit. And that's got many people wondering, quite whether or not everything we're seeing here, could be taken at face value.

Prigozhin was not really known, his whereabouts, for about one or two weeks, after that initial rebellion. He popped up last -- in the last week or so, in Africa, suggesting perhaps he might be focusing on his Wagner Group's operations, there, often involved in mining, propping up dictatorships there.

But still, the images, many watching in Russia, of that plane, harrowingly falling, from the sky, leave many wondering, exactly how this could possibly have occurred, and also two questioning.

There appear to have been many Wagner top lieutenants on that plane as well, according to the list, given out by Russian state aviation authorities. And you may be asking yourself, "Well, how did these men, so soon after the coup, feel so free of threats, so safe in Russia already, they all decided to get on the same private jet and fly across Russia?" Another question to be asked here as well.


But it does look, at this point, from most of the signals we're getting that Yevgeny Prigozhin is no more.


COLLINS: But given that Russia is the one, conducting this investigation, and we still have all those questions that you laid out there, I mean, will we ever get a real answer, about what happened here?

PATON WALSH: Yes, it's going to be exceptionally tough. We may, at some point, hear from the Wagner Group, or Wagner supporters that they believe Yevgeny Prigozhin is dead.

But fundamentally, this is a man, whose whereabouts, let's say, he toyed with, an awful lot. After the coup, there were images of someone looking like him, getting on off a helicopter, in Saint Petersburg. His actions, frankly, the entire Wagner Group were occurring in the shadows, until just very recently, indeed.

And so, for Western investigators, being at a crash scene, as horrific as that that you've seen, from the wreckage of the plane, that fell out of the sky, it would be a challenge, for them, frankly, often, to piece together, from the remains, their DNA enough, to be absolutely sure, who had been on that plane.

What we do know is the passenger lists that he should have been there, that Russian state aviation said he did indeed, get on that plane. And so, for the most part, there will always be some element of mystery, potentially, because frankly, that is where Putin's Russia functions, where the information is often in the hands of the state, no exception here.

And also, it's important to point out Prigozhin was a man, who had crossed Putin, in ways Putin had never seen, in the 23 years, he'd been in power. And many were simply asking, "How is he being allowed, to continue circulating, within the Russian elite in public? How is he even still alive?" Well, maybe the answer has been delivered today.

We do not know at all how this came around. But, as you say, you heard President Biden there, many other observers of Putin. None of this really came as a surprise.


COLLINS: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you.

Yevgeny Prigozhin lived in the shadows, on three continents. His life though, ended in flames, just outside of Moscow.

Let's get straight to THE SOURCE, tonight, with one of the few people alive, who knows what it is like, to live, as an enemy of Vladimir Putin's.

Bill Browder was once the largest foreign investor, in Russia, before the Kremlin decided that he was a threat. And he joins me now.

Bill, it's not a staircase. It's not a window. It's not poison, in someone's underwear. But given Putin's history, is there any doubt, in your mind, tonight, that he is behind this?

BILL BROWDER, CEO, HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Absolutely no doubt that he is behind this.

Putin is a man, who never forgives, and never forgets. Yevgeny Prigozhin basically betrayed him. He was disloyal. He organized a rebellion. And Putin absolutely can't allow that to go on, because if he does, then other people will get the same idea.

And Putin has ruled for 23 years, as a strongman, as a dictator. And Prigozhin made him look weak. And so, this is what happens, when you make Putin look weak.

COLLINS: Are you more surprised that it has been two months, since that rebellion, Prigozhin led, happened?

BROWDER: It's absolutely crazy that Putin has allowed him, to live, for two months.

One would expect if you're a ruthless dictator? And somebody organized a rebellion, and you called him a traitor, on television, the day of the rebellion? That that guy would be -- the rebel would be apprehended, taken to Red Square, his head put in a guillotine, and have it chopped off the next day. And the fact that Prigozhin didn't have his head chopped off? And in fact, he had tea with Putin and the Kremlin? He was greeting African dictators at the Russia-Africa summit? He's been flying all over the world, apparently, unimpeded? Every one of those days made Putin look like a weakling, look not like a strong dictator.

And so, the fact that he waited for two months is that's the biggest surprise of this whole story.

COLLINS: Yes, speaking of looking weak, I mean, after that rebellion initially happened, you said that you did believe he'd have to do something, to reassert his authority, or you believe that Putin was the quote, believe you had, at the time was he was a dead man walking.

I mean, is this him reasserting his authority? If it's two months later, does it still work, you think?

BROWDER: Yes. It works perfectly. So, from this day on, anybody who's thinking, about challenging Putin, understands that the consequence could be death, in a terrible way.

And, by the way, I don't think this is the end of the story. I think that Putin has begun the purge. And there will be other people purged, who were supporting Prigozhin, or who weren't loyal enough to Putin, during that rebellion.

And so, this absolutely enforces his authority. And that's what he does -- that's what he's been attempting to do. And yes, two months have gone by, and that wasn't great for him. But now, he's achieved the objective.


COLLINS: So essentially, what you're saying is, if you're a Prigozhin ally, you're not sleeping well tonight?

BROWDER: I'm sure that some of them are already dead. We just haven't heard of it. Other ones are on the run and hiding. And many people will be purged, will either be killed, or locked up for a very long time. That's the way dictators work. Putin is a dictator. And I'm sure that that's what's happening, as we speak.

COLLINS: Well, and Russia is doing an investigation. But if this is up to Russia's investigators, do you think we'll ever really know what happened, with this plane crash, today?

BROWDER: I think we will know what happened, because for a variety of reasons.

One is that there's lots of open source intelligence about what happened there. There's flight plans, radar, all sorts of other stuff like that.

And then, there's just a very leaky information market, out there, in Moscow. And there are people fighting with each other. And there's lots of ways of getting information. So, I'm pretty sure that we'll find out exactly what's happened.

And part of the reason that the Russia says "We're doing an investigation" is they want to be able to sort of talk out of both sides of their mouths.

On one hand, they want to say, this was a accident, or they'll come up with some type of absurd conclusion.

And on the other side of their mouth, they want to like, look, everybody in the eye and say, "This is what happens to traitors."

But they don't want an official version, of admitting that they killed him, because there's legal consequences to that.

COLLINS: You yourself have faced threats, as I mentioned, from the Kremlin. I mean, you wrote in your book that you assumed there was a good chance that he or his regime would have you killed, some day. I mean, when you look at the big picture of this, how are you reflecting, on this, tonight?

BROWDER: Well, I mean, I've been reflecting on it, and saying to myself that Putin never forgives, and never forgets. And he and I have been at it for 13 years.

I'm no longer the number one enemy, of Vladimir Putin. I think Zelenskyy is. I think Navalny is. I think Prigozhin was, but I'm high up on the list. And it means that no matter how much time has passed, he could be sending people, to get me. And it's not -- the world's not a safe place for me, either.

COLLINS: I mean, just to hear you say that is really remarkable. I mean, do you live in fear?

BROWDER: Well, you can't spend decades, living in fear. But I have to be very careful, because when you have a man, who's capable of murdering people, on his own, in his own country, and on foreign soil? You've got to be much more vigilant. And so, I've got to take all sorts of precautions that most normal people, who live normal lives don't have to take.

But I have good reason for being in conflict with Putin, because he killed my lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, 13 years ago, in a financial crime, in which he was a beneficiary of. And Sergei died at the age of 37. And I owe it to him, to continue to fight for justice, and to expose Putin, and his regime. And I'm not going to back down. But the risk is high. No question.

COLLINS: And you have continued to do that.

Bill Browder, thank you.

The book, of course, for those interested, it's "Freezing Order: A True Story of Russian Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin's Wrath."

Thank you for joining me. BROWDER: Thank you.

COLLINS: And we have seen what happens, when Putin feels betrayed, as he would put it. Some have mysteriously fallen out of windows, or just disappeared off the face of the earth. Others had their underwear laced with poison and barely survived. We have an expert on his playbook.

Also, an extraordinary scene, outside the Fulton County Jail, as the former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, turns himself into be arrested. His lawyer, who was there with him, will join me, next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does it feel to be on the other side of the justice system?

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: I'm sorry. Don't interrupt me. I'm making a statement.




COLLINS: Several top U.S. officials indicated, months ago, they thought something like this would happen, to Yevgeny Prigozhin. They didn't know exactly what.

But the predictions were there, from the CIA Director.


WILLIAM BURNS, DIRECTOR, CIA: I think Putin is someone who generally thinks that revenge is a dish best served cold.


COLLINS: Secretary of State.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: If I were Mr. Prigozhin, I would remain very concerned. NATO has an open door policy. Russia has an open windows policy.


COLLINS: Even President Biden himself.


BIDEN: If I were he, I'd be careful what I ate. I'd be keeping my eye on my menu.


COLLINS: Masha Gessen writes for The New Yorker, and has written many books, on Russia and Putin, and also spent time, on the ground, reporting on how ordinary and everyday Russians view the Russian leader.

Masha, thank you for joining me.

I mean, it has been two months to the day since Prigozhin started his coup. I mean, did you think this day was inevitable?

MASHA GESSEN, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Yes. In the sense, I'm not original. I think many of us, who know how Russia functions, how the Kremlin functions, knew that Prigozhin was a dead man.

COLLINS: I mean given that, given, it seems so inevitable, if it did, in fact happen, which, there's some questions about that. I mean, why did it take so long, do you think?

GESSEN: Well, that's actually a great question. And I'm not sure that it has anything to do with Putin believing that revenge is a dish best served cold. He may or may not. We don't know that.

What we do know is that he has a real love, of appearing to be sort of the bureaucrats' bureaucrat. In his case, we know now he is a murderous, he's a genocidal bureaucrat. But there's always this kind of process, right?

And I was reminded actually, of the Putin, we saw, 23 years ago, when he was first in power, in August of 2000, when the submarine Kursk sank. And Putin talked about his ideas of leadership, for the first time. And he was really talking about the presidency, as a bureaucracy, right? And I think he still thinks that it's that.

And so, the two-month pause, I think, is meant to communicate that there's some kind of process, right? But that they did something, they considered it. They may be put it through the machine. None of that is true.


But I think that the pause that Putin often takes, to do anything at all, part of it is a function of the decision. But part of it is his instinct, for appearing bureaucratic.

And, of course, he has a real love of dates, right? He does things, on the anniversary, of a particular thing. He loves symmetrical dates. So, to have this man murdered, which, like many others, I assume, this was a murder, on the 23rd of August 2023, which also is the second -- the two-month anniversary of Prigozhin's, what I think, was an accidental mutiny? All of this is richly symbolic and very Putin-like.

COLLINS: So, he just didn't want to seem, I mean, irrational.

I was looking at your past writing. You wrote in June that Prigozhin accidentally showed Russians, they have a choice. What do you think they're being shown today?

GESSEN: Well, anybody, who thinks that they could repeat what Prigozhin did, but more successfully, is being shown that there will be no mercy, there will be no forgiveness, right?

What's appeared to be incredible, in the wake of Prigozhin's mutiny was that he supposedly was allowed to just decamp for Belarus, and would be left to live there, in peace. It was very hard to believe -- it was very hard to believe that he wasn't -- and he wasn't going to be arrested, and prosecuted, for his insurgency.

So, these things seemed incredible. And they almost would indicate that somebody could attempt a coup, and get away with failing. And the message this is sending is "No. If you so much as consider a coup, you may end up dead."

It's also I think, important that it also comes on this -- it also came on the same day that Moscow announced that it was removing the General, who was in charge of the armed forces, in Ukraine, General Surovikin, who was clearly blamed, from the very beginning, for allowing both the conflict with Prigozhin, to escalate, and for allowing Prigozhin, to move freely, through Russia, as he made his way, to Moscow.

So, this also frames both Prigozhin's death and Surovikin's removal, as kind of Putin's considered response, to what happened, two months ago.

COLLINS: Yes, it'll be fascinating to see also what that means, for the future of Wagner.

Masha Gessen, we will see what answers we do get. Thank you, for joining us, with your expertise.

GESSEN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Speaking of back to Georgia, what we were referencing, earlier, America's Mayor booked, fingerprinted. Yes, mug-shotted. Rudy Giuliani has now joined the other co-defendants, at the Fulton County Jail. I'll talk to his attorney, who helped negotiate that bond, next.



COLLINS: As Donald Trump plans his surrender, to Fulton County authorities, tomorrow, three of his attorneys, who were around him, around the election, have now surrendered, at the Atlanta jail.

This was what was known once as the "Elite Strike Force," as they called themselves, back in November 2020. Sidney Powell, on the left, Rudy Giuliani, and Jenna Ellis. And this is them today, three mug shots, for three criminal defendants, accused of scheming, to overturn the 2020 election results, in that State.

Perhaps who was jarring to see, of course, is Giuliani, the former top prosecutor himself, New York Mayor, 9/11 hero, and, at the time of the 2008 primary, a GOP front-runner for President.

Despite reaching a $150,000 bond agreement, adding to his already existing financial woes, and a sobering trip, to a 2nd Chance Bail Bonds, in Atlanta, Giuliani appeared defiant.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret attaching your name to the former President?

GIULIANI: Ha ha. I am very, very honored to be involved in this case, because this case is a fight for our way of life. This indictment is a travesty.

If this could happen to me, who was probably the most prolific prosecutor, maybe in American history, and the most effective mayor, for sure? It can happen to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does it feel to be on the other side of the justice system?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does it feel to be on the other side of the justice system?

GIULIANI: I'm sorry. Don't interrupt me. I'm making a statement.

If they can do this to me, they can do this to you.


COLLINS: Joining me now is Rudy Giuliani's Georgia attorney, Brian Tevis.

Brian, thank you, for being here, tonight.

I know you just joined this case. Does this mean you are on Giuliani's legal team, going forward?

BRIAN TEVIS, GEORGIA ATTORNEY FOR RUDY GIULIANI: At this point, I was only involved in, in obtaining a bond, and negotiating the surrender. I don't know if I'll be in the case, going forward or not. That remains to be seen.

COLLINS: So, how were you -- were you only hired to represent him, because you're in Georgia? How did this come to be? Can you kind of walk me through that?

TEVIS: Sure. To practice law, in any state, you have to be licensed there.

So, even though the Mayor has counsel from New York, you have to have an attorney, from Georgia, to be able to appear in court, sign documents, negotiate things like that, otherwise, you're practicing law without a license. So, they had to have local counsel involved to do that.

I've been involved, in this matter, not necessarily specifically this, but since the phone call and other aspects of it. So, I was familiar with it. And of course, the criminal defense realm is a, it's a small circle of attorneys. So, we all know each other. There's a lot of inner communication. And I'm very familiar with the facts of this case.

COLLINS: OK. So, it remains to be seen if you'll be part of this legal team, taking it to trial.

I mean, today, we did see from Mr. Giuliani, today, he said, "I'm being indicted because I'm a lawyer." That was his quote. I mean, obviously, he was indicted on 13 charges, including engaging in criminal conspiracies, soliciting a public officer, to violate their oath.

But is his main defense going to be that he's an attorney and, therefore, should not be charged?

TEVIS: Well, I don't want to get beyond the scope of the representation that I'm at right now.


And also, it's very premature to be saying, "What is the defense going to be?" I mean you look at this indictment. It's very complex. Racketeering in and of itself, RICO indictments are very broad. They're very general. They leave themselves open to a lot of attacks, to be made, on the document itself.

I expect there will be many legal challenges, to the indictment, on its own, before you ever get into evidence or legal strategy, or how does it get defended?

The first point of attack is always for us to look at the document itself. Does it charge what they think it charges? Is it survivable, on its face? Are there errors? Are there problems? Do we need more information to defend it?

And, I think, there's been some discussion, about this scheduling order of, could this case go to trial in March? I mean, we would be able to have motions that will go into March, before you ever get to reviewing evidence, on a case this size.

COLLINS: Well, so what's the next legal move? I mean, he has indicated he tried to move it to a federal court, out of a state court. Is that still his plan?

TEVIS: I don't have information on what the strategy is going to be, as far as whether there's going to be removal or not. I know people are discussing that. That may be one of many different points of attack. But I don't know where they're going to go with that yet.

COLLINS: Are you being compensated by Mr. Giuliani for your work? Do you have an agreement with him? TEVIS: I don't want to get into any attorney-client privilege or discussions about things that my client and I have discussed.

COLLINS: Well, the reason I ask is because our reporting here, and his own other attorney, in a different case, here in New York, Adam Katz, has acknowledged in court that he has financial difficulties.

TEVIS: Right. Well, I've gotten this question 100 times a day, as we've walked to the courthouse, the jail, everywhere else. And my answer is still the same. I'm not going to disclose that. I don't discuss my client's finances, or arrangements, between us, in any of my cases. And this one is no different.

COLLINS: Well, I guess, part of this was, I mean, we just heard from his attorney, talking about how he couldn't afford certain legal fees that he has. I mean, how was he able to post the bond, today?

TEVIS: You'd have to talk to his people, about the finances. I know that they used a surety bond, 2nd Chance bonding, who posted it. Usually, you only have to post a fraction of the percentage, and the bonding company will post the rest of that. So, you would use a bonding company. You're not posting the $150,000 yourself.

COLLINS: But Brian, you're an attorney. I mean, to look at what another attorney is saying, in court, about a difficulty paying your legal bills? And then, Giuliani arrives, in Georgia, on a private plane, today? I mean, do you know whose plane that was?

TEVIS: I don't. I met them at my office. When Mr. Esposito (ph) came to my office, that's when we started to work on the case, today. I did not meet them at the airport. I have no idea how they arrived.

COLLINS: OK. One other question. Trump is going to -- former President Trump is going to be headlining a $100,000 per person fundraiser, for Giuliani, to help with those aforementioned legal bills.

But part of the bond restrictions that were handed down today is that he cannot talk about the case, with a co-defendant. Trump is obviously his co-defendant. Can you assure the court that they are not going to be talking about that case?

TEVIS: Well, I haven't looked at his bond order. But our bond order says don't discuss things with co-defendants, as matters of the case, except through counsel.


TEVIS: It's not uncommon to say, don't talk to witnesses, don't talk to other defendants, things like that, except through counsel. So, I have no idea if the --

COLLINS: But can you assure the court that they are not going to talk about it?

TEVIS: Well, I would assure the court that we made this agreement, and we'll abide by the bond conditions. COLLINS: And have you spoken to Trump's attorneys?

TEVIS: I have not.

COLLINS: Brian Tevis, thank you, for your time, tonight.

TEVIS: All right, thank you.

COLLINS: And I'm joined now by Andrew Kirtzman, Author of "Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America's Mayor."

Andrew, thank you, for being here.

I mean, we were just talking the other day, about the remarkable idea that Giuliani had been indicted. Did you ever think that you'd see a Rudy Giuliani mug shot?

ANDREW KIRTZMAN, AUTHOR: No. No. It's an extraordinary sight. And this was a catastrophic hit, to Giuliani's reputation. Not to mention the fact that he faces the prospect of possibly spending the rest of his life in prison. No, I never thought it would come to this.

But what I found interesting, watching him speaking to reporters, today, was the first words out of his mouth were "I'm honored to be involved in the fight for justice," right? You were not looking at someone, who was scared, or mortified, or depressed. You were looking at someone, who was prime for battle.

Giuliani is a machine, who knows only one speed, which is shoot to kill. And he's fought so many battles, over his career, you know? And many of them things that have actually improved life, in New York, the battle against the mafia, the battle against Wall Street, the battle, to turn around New York City, the battle, to save New York, after 9/11.

Well, this is obviously a different kind of battle. And he still sees himself as kind of that young prosecutor, always fighting for -- always fighting for justice.


But this is his last battle, most likely. And he goes into it, not kind of the young Giuliani, in his prime, but really, someone, who's close to 80-years-old. In many ways, he's a confused man. He's almost broke. And, in some ways, this is not kind of, I don't know, an epic battle, in the true sense. In many ways, he starts this battle a very sad man.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, he's clearly bothered, by the unraveling, of his legacies, certainly trying to defend it. I mean, when he -- you're talking about the kind of sense of bravado that he had? This is what he said, when he left his apartment, here in New York, this morning.


GIULIANI: People like to say I'm different. I'm the same Rudy Giuliani, who took down the Mafia, who made New York City the safest city in America, reduced crime more than any mayor in the history, of any city, anywhere. And I'm fighting for justice. I have been, from the first moment, I represented Donald Trump.


COLLINS: I mean, are you buying the bravado, given, you're someone who's covered him for as long as you have?

KIRTZMAN: Yes, I am. I think just knowing his psyche, after reporting on him, for 30 years? It's that his, you know, if you looked inside his brain, I think what you would see was someone, who felt always that he was right, and everyone else was wrong, right? Someone, who was crusading for justice, someone, who was on the right of any issue, even when what he was doing, was deeply immoral.

And I don't see this as kind of putting on a phony act, like, I think he only has kind of one speed, and that's to fight. And that's, I think, that's what you're seeing. And I think that's why it's, I don't know, I'm a little dubious about whether he would flip on Trump. It would just kind of go against everything that I've ever seen, Giuliani do.

It's like everything with him, is a moral battle, even when what he's doing is extremely immoral. I mean, Giuliani has done terrible damage, to democracy. He's told lies. He's taken America down a very, very, terrible, terrible path. And yet, there is no question in my mind that he thinks he's right, and everyone else thinks he's wrong.

COLLINS: So that's kind of -- that's --

KIRTZMAN: Sorry. And everyone else is wrong.

COLLINS: That's fascinating, though, what you said there. I mean, Trump is refusing to pay for his legal fees.


COLLINS: It mean, it's not totally clear how those fees are being paid. His attorney couldn't answer those questions, just now.

But you don't think that there's anything that could happen, where he would flip on Trump, or provide incriminating information?

KIRTZMAN: Well, there's something about the prospect of prison that focuses the mind, right? So, I don't think you can possibly say that there's nothing that would make him flip on Trump.

But I have not heard one word of kind of vacillation, in his remarks. I was just, listening to him, on his podcast. It's all the same. It's like "Injustice. Injustice. Injustice," right? He's the victim. Trump is the victim.

Could he suddenly change his tune completely? To me, it's unlikely. You never know though.

COLLINS: Something about prison that focuses the mind.

Andrew Kirtzman, it was great having you on, last week. Great having you back, tonight.

KIRTZMAN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Of course, it was a very busy day, at the Fulton County Jail, not just for Rudy Giuliani. We'll show you who else turned themselves in.

As we look ahead to tomorrow, what Donald Trump is going to go through, what we believe to be the exact same process, will there be a mug shot of the former President is a big question tonight.



COLLINS: Two of the most recognizable people, in the Georgia case, have about 38 hours, and ticking, to get there, after today, a federal judge rejected a bid, by former White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, and that former Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, to avoid being arrested and booked, in Fulton County, by a Friday new deadline, to turn themselves in, which now still applies.

Katelyn Polantz joins me now, from the Fulton County Courthouse, in Georgia.

Katelyn, I mean, the judge is essentially saying they have no choice but to show up, now. How did he explain his decision?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the judge's decision, in this case, Kaitlan, is it's a federal judge, right now, weighing in on this state case that has been brought by the D.A.

And that judge is saying essentially, there's no law, right now, that the judge can see that would allow him, to put on hold, what's happening, in the state system, in the state courts.

And what Jeffrey Clark, and Mark Meadows, had both done is that they had run, to the federal courts, to say "We were federal officials, at the time that we were serving under Donald Trump that these alleged actions that we're now accused of taking part, in this racketeering conspiracy, related to the 2020 election. We were working on behalf of the President, at the time. And so, our case should move into federal court."

In addition to that, they wanted the court to step in immediately, and put everything on hold, potentially even look at dismissing the charges, against them, and hold off having them arrested.

And what the judge did today was say, he took on the arrest questions, specifically, and said "You know what? You are going to have to get on the planes. You are going to have to respond to these warrants that Fani Willis, the D.A., is threatening here, because there is not law here that allows me to put the state courts, on hold, to have this process go forward."

But there is going to be a hearing, Monday, because this judge is looking at what these two are saying and, at least, Meadows, specifically looking at, for this case, on Monday, and looking at whether this case can move, from the state court, to the federal court.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, luckily, there's a lot of flights to Atlanta.

But, I mean, in the back and forth, between Fani Willis, the District Attorney, and Mark Meadows and his attorneys, she was basically saying there should be no exceptions for Meadows, given his boss, former President Trump is coming to surrender.


What stood out in the way she was essentially kind of shooting down the arguments that Meadows has been making?

POLANTZ: The main point that the D.A., Fani Willis, said, in two filings, today, was essentially what Mark Meadows was doing was political activity. And even he had made that argument previously, when he was trying to escape, responding to House subpoenas, in their own investigation, around this area, the 2020 election, and his actions there.

And she essentially was saying, if he wants to claim, he was working, as a federal official, at the time, he's trying that in court, but we believe what he was doing for Donald Trump was political activity, and thus, shouldn't get this allowance that he can have there.

And there were two quotes that she wrote, in her filings, about Meadows and Clark. "The hardship facing the defendant is no different than any other criminal defendant charged with a crime, including his co-defendants who have either already surrendered... or have agreed to so surrender."

And then, Fani Willis, also wrote, about Jeffrey Clark, "The defendant seeks to avoid the inconvenience and unpleasantness of being arrested or subject to the mandatory state criminal process, but provides this court no legal basis to justify those ends," making those arguments at a time that shadow what Donald Trump could potentially be wanting to make, in the future, as well, and what the D.A. would have to defend against.

COLLINS: We'll see what he does tomorrow, and going forward.

Katelyn Polantz, thank you.

And back to our big breaking story, this hour. Russia says Wagner chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led that mutiny, just two months ago, was on that plane that crashed, and burned, today. The one-time Putin ally, turned adversary, reportedly dead.

The former CIA Director will join me, with his thoughts, next.



COLLINS: We're following today's fiery plane crash, in Russia, where officials say there that the mercenary leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was on board that plane that crashed that you see.

Wagner's social media channel says the mercenary leader is dead.

Of course, waiting on more confirmation, tonight.

But remember, two months ago, he led an armed rebellion, trying to overthrow Putin's Moscow.

Joining me now, Leon Panetta, the former Defense Secretary, and CIA Director, under President Obama.

And Mr. Secretary, thank you, for joining me.

I should note the White House has not been able to confirm Prigozhin's death. But they said they're not surprised if it is true. Can you just kind of walk us through what does that look like, tonight? How are they trying to confirm details like that, do you think?

LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it's obvious they'd have to use other sources to try to find out exactly what happened, and also whether Prigozhin is in fact dead.

Look, there's -- for those of us, who have dealt with Intelligence, this is not a surprising story. We followed Putin before. This is right out of Putin's playbook. If you cross him, you're going to pay with your life. And that's what happened to Prigozhin.

COLLINS: And, I mean, Wagner's mercenaries have not just been tracked in Ukraine. I mean, also Syria, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya. What does his death, and the sidelining of another top general, that was in Ukraine, what does that mean for the group going forward, do you think?

PANETTA: Well, I think it's likely that Russia is going to try to make a move, to take over the Wagner Group, and take control of it. I think, having now acted against Prigozhin, I think they're going to be very concerned, about allowing these guys, basically, to continue to operate, on their own.

So, I would not be -- I would not be surprised, if they assert control, over the Wagner Group, in Africa, in Asia, and wherever else they may be located. And, for that matter, I think, those in the Wagner Group have got to worry, about their own lives, as well.

COLLINS: And not just beyond what it means for the future of them. What does it mean for the future of Russia, do you think, and for Putin's future? I mean, the elections, in Russia, I should say, elections are just ahead, in March 2024. I mean, what does this mean, if you're an everyday Russian, watching this playing out, tonight? PANETTA: I think you have to say that there's still a lot of instability, in Russia. I mean the fact that Putin had a coup, two months ago, probably the biggest threat, to his power, in 23 years? There's no question that it reflected weakness, on Putin's part. He's now trying to assert control.

But it's also clear that Prigozhin had a lot of friends, in Russia, as well, and a lot of Russians, who supported him. And so, there's going to be some turmoil, in the short-term. And whenever there's this kind of turmoil, I think, it does undermine Putin's ability, to show strength. And I have a sense that it's going to cause him, to kind of rethink, what's going on, in Ukraine, as well.

COLLINS: We'll see what it does, to that thinking, going forward for that.

Secretary Panetta, thank you, for joining me, tonight.

PANETTA: Thank you.

COLLINS: And when we return, the mug shots that will undoubtedly go down in American history, as Trump's co-defendants and turn themselves in one by one by one.



COLLINS: The Fulton County Jail center stage, as nine of the 19 defendants have surrendered, been fingerprinted, and yes, had their mug shots taken.

Here's Rudy Giuliani, once known for taking down, New York mobsters, now facing the same RICO charges that he pioneered.

Smiling in hers is Jenna Ellis, who back in 2020, called herself a member of the "Elite Strike Force," working to protect the Constitution.

And then there's Sidney Powell, who claimed that voting machines featured software, created at the direction of the long-dead Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez.

The list continues with Kenneth Chesebro, the architect of Trump's campaign fake electors plot; Cathy Latham, who served as a fake collector, and allegedly signed paperwork claiming that Trump had won the State of Georgia, when he did not.

That's followed by David Shafer, pinning his involvement now, in that fake electors scheme, on former President Trump. And Ray Smith, who falsely claimed that felons and dead people voted, during a Georgia Senate hearing.

Lest we forget, John Eastman, an attorney that advised former President Trump, on how to disrupt the 2020 election results, even though he himself was skeptical, of the legality, of what he was pushing.

And Scott Hall, a pro-Trump poll-watcher, who spent hours inside a restricted area of the Coffee County elections office, as voting systems were breached.

10 more mug shots, though, to potentially come and, of course, one big question is whether or not there will be one for the former President, when he goes to Fulton County, tomorrow.

Thank you so much, for joining me, tonight.

"CNN PRIMETIME" with Abby Phillip, starts, right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST, CNN PRIMETIME: Kaitlan, thank you very much.

And a plane, carrying one of Vladimir's Putin's biggest foes, just falls out of the sky.